Mercy screams its violent love
The death of us created for
This is where they kiss
The first few times I listened to this song I really struggled with understanding the marriage of justice and mercy. I understood mercy…and adored (still do) the imagery of “mercy screams its violent love”, but what is so sad to me is I had never been taught restorative justice. I was reading a book by Richard Rohr entitled Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi at the age of 27 before I realized there was a justice outside of retributive justice. This is deplorable! Our entire society functions on the misunderstood concept of “an eye for an eye”…which, by the way, does not at all mean what we were raised to think it means. It does not mean “if you take my eye, I’m going to take yours!” but rather “if you take my eye, you owe me an eye”…which leans closer to restorative justice than retributive justice.
When one considers restorative justice–the justice that works to reconcile the wronged and the wrong-doer–mercy naturally fits into the equation. Where is this? Why have I not been taught this? What is it about us that drives us to assume violence is the best answer? That punitive treatment is going to fix all of our problems?
I invite you to recall 9/11…or another national tragedy…the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting for example. Take a moment to remember how you felt when you first heard or saw the news…do you recall a sense of loss? Of mourning? Even if those events had nothing to do with you…don’t you still feel somehow connected to them? To the victims? Some may argue that this is due to our egocentric attempts at making the world about us, but I would argue differently. We feel connected because we are connected. We are all humanity. I recall one of the most popular TobyMac songs “Made to Love”:
I was made to love
And be loved by you
I think of hundreds of people screaming in excitement at the intro to this song at a Christian music festival…I think of those words leaving the mouths of those who also tell someone who loves another of the same gender that they are going to hell…or that the woman who is walking out of Planned Parenthood is a murderer. If we were made to love, where is this love? What is this love?
1 John 4:8
Whoever fails to love does not know God, because God is love.
God is love. If God is love, were we not created for love? To be in union with God is to be in union with Love, is it not? Perhaps this is what causes the connection between us and the strangers we see mourning on TV…perhaps this is what it feels like to be connected through Love…to be connected at the core of humanity…creation…God. Perhaps we really made for love, to love, by Love. I know we were not made to judge, and we certainly were not made to convict…so what are we doing? An eye for an eye…
We preach love one another, yet hate our neighbors…I’ll re-word “neighbor”…we hate our enemies. Jesus came right out and spoke it very clearly using the word agapate…granted I’m not a student of Greek, but I’ll take the assumption that agapate is a derivative of agape (verb vs noun I’m thinking). Agape is perfect, self-sacrificing love…this love is not possible without Love. We cannot possibly be capable of true Agape love unless it is from Love Himself, through us. Agape my enemies. Mercy. Restorative Justice. Peace. Love.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.
Mercy screams its violent love, justice and mercy…this is where they kiss.